Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to close the unofficial border crossing at Roxham Road in Quebec within the next 30 days. Poilievre said while speaking to reporters in Ottawa on Feb. 21 that the issue of thousands of migrants claiming asylum in Canada after crossing into the country through Roxham Road was caused by Trudeau, whom he said “encouraged people to cross illegally into Canada.” This was in reference to a 2017 Twitter post by Trudeau after then-U.S. president Donald Trump temporarily banned travel into the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries and for all Syrian refugees. Trudeau wrote, “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength,” with a hashtag saying, “Welcome to Canada.” This post has become the focus of a private criminal prosecution being levied against Trudeau by a Quebec-based activist group alleging that he violated the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act by encouraging refugees to immigrate to Canada. Federal statistics show that in 2022, more than 39,000 migrants claimed asylum in Canada after being intercepted by the RCMP while crossing into Quebec, compared to just 369 across the rest of the country.
Poilievre said the federal government closed the unofficial entry point during the pandemic with much effect, adding that “nobody ruled it unconstitutional,” and “nobody found that it broke the law.” Quebec Premier François Legault has been urging Ottawa to slow the inflow of asylum-seekers at Roxham road, calling on Trudeau to issue an official statement dissuading migrants from coming to Canada and writing an opinion column published in the Globe and Mail on Feb. 21 saying the time has come for Ottawa to close Roxham Road. Legault also wrote a letter to Trudeau on Feb. 19 asking him to prioritize the Roxham Road situation during his upcoming meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden in March.